Monday, September 17, 2012

How a planner survives stay-at-home-mommyhood.

Since this is blog was never suppose to be all running... :p
Becoming a stay at home mom has been harder than I ever imagined.  I knew it would be hard, but I didn't realize HOW hard.  Not that being a working mom was a walk in the park...  they're both hard jobs, and the bottom line is that once you're a mom, you become a 24/7 "employee" to someone.  Especially when you have a baby or toddler around!  
I'm a bit, um, anal, and a tend to over-analyze & over-plan.  If you're a stay at home mom, you can see where it might get a little hard to be this kind of person & be home all day.  (If you're not a stay at home mom, imagine going from a structured job to a day full of "whatever goes".  It's hard!)  One thing I had to implement right away was a chore schedule & a weekly dinner plan.  The chore schedule helps me keep the house clean w/out having to do it all at once (although I do have to do a really good cleaning from time to time).  It's not nearly as overwhelming to keep a clean house when you only have one major chore a day! The weekly dinner plan I figure out either late Saturday or early Sunday, based on what we have to eat.  I keep these in a place we can all see (in the breakfast room window), so everyone knows what's going on.   It's nothing fancy, just on a calendar board I got at an office supply store, but it helps me SO much:

A recent addition is something I'm using to teach Kasen (he's 5) AND get us out the door on time.  Before I implemented it, we were running late every day & leaving the house tense & upset with each other.  Now, he's learning how to tell time, manage time, & stay on schedule (don't tell him he's learning anything though, that's a secret), and we're leaving the house happy & ON TIME (even early)!  I have a schedule & clock hanging right in the hall, right in front of Kasen's bedroom door.  I know what time things are suppose to happen, so when it's time for him to do something, I just remind him to go look at the clock & schedule & see if he should be doing anything.  He likes feeling in charge, and I like not arguing over getting his shoes on his feet on time.  Win, win!  I think the clock + the schedule list cost about $4.50 altogether - triple win!

On the advice of our therapist, we have instituted family rules recently too.  Luke & I came up with the most important things to us, that could be clearly defined & easily understood, I wrote up the rules poster, and then we all sat down & talked about the rules (including having Kasen give examples of each one so that we knew he understood).  If a rule is broken, a gentle reminder is given, or I may take Kasen over to the rules poster & read them to remind him of what is expected.  I'd like to have these in some cooler form, but I don't have the time or energy to be crafty right now, so this is what we have for now & it works.

The biggest problem I've found in my stay at home mom abilities, is that I tend to find myself wasting the afternoon away if I don't have a plan.  (Kasen has school in the morning) Also, I spend lots of time feeding/holding/playing with the baby & not giving Kasen as much time & attention as I'd like.  So, I've started working on having at least one specific thing I focus on teaching Kasen every day.  I know we'll at least have a good 30 min - 1 hour of learning time to play together ('cause it's not boring learning time, it's play time too!).  I hope to continue this for Graham too in a few months.  If the whole day becomes a crazy free-for-all, it's not a huge deal, but I can usually find a little block of time for at least one activity.  We have:
MATH MONDAY - playing with math in any form - fractions, counting, adding, etc
TUNES TUESDAY - music related play - singing, dancing, playing an instrument, making an instrument, etc
WORD WEDNESDAY - reading &/or writing
TOUCH THURSDAY - sensory development mixed with science
FIT FRIDAY - physical challenges - park play, running, monkey bars, etc
SKILL SATURDAY - any kind of skill we can fit in the day - chore-related or life related
SILLY SUNDAY - some kind of silly family fun
I try not to emphasize that it's learning time, but I do let him know how whatever we're doing is whatever we're focusing on that day.  ie - "it IS fun to mix cornstarch with water, and it's science also! Mixing a solid & a liquid to see what happens is something chemists do..."  etc.
One thing we did for TOUCH TUESDAY is making finger paint (look online for a recipe).  We covered the table in kraft paper (you can get a huge roll of kraft paper at Lowe's/Home Depot for less than $10) & he dug in.  (Graham played with this one too!)  He had lots of fun mixing all the colors together, then he discovered that he could cover the whole table in it & the trace pictures through the gunk.  He liked that more than actually finger painting, it was way more sensory-intense, which he prefers.  

For a MATH MONDAY, we worked on measuring/learning fractions.  He got to pour water from the 1/4 c measuring cup into the 1 c & counted how many it took to make a cup, then he did 1/2 c & 1/3 c.  The he poured water from a liquid measuring cup into several different cups to figure out how to make a full cup.  He also made it into a fun splashing party.  :p  We discussed how the fractions work & when he was totally done I had him, write his #s 0-9 out & we worked on the ones he has difficulty with.  We killed a good hour having fun AND learning.  ...then I spent a good 15 minutes cleaning up water. lol

My new job has been a huge adjustment, but the more I add structure & schedules to things, the easier it's becoming for me.  It's just who I am.  As hard as this job is, I wouldn't trade it for anything!  Being here every day, to see my children grow in physical & mental size is amazing.  This is THE hardest job I've ever had, it's the most thankless job I've ever had (and I've had some thankless jobs!), but it's also the most rewarding job I've ever had.  I'm forming helpless children into [one day]self-sufficient adults.  Amazing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It's time to get real.

It's time for me to get real, and it's not gonna be pretty.

A year ago, I was this girl:

At about 142 #s, I was starting to love my body.  It was a fairly slim & strong body that got me through my first half marathon - while pregnant.  It was a body that went from overweight, tired, hypertensive, & blah to a healthy BMI, a perfect oxygen level, normal blood pressure, & energy to take on the world.  It took a lot of work to get there & I really wanted to get it even more in shape, but I was the happiest I had been with my own self image in a LONG time.  Of course I knew one of the many reasons I had worked so hard on it was so that I could carry a healthy pregnancy to term.  With that, I was very successful!  I will not allow myself to grieve the body I lost because I grew another human.  That is an amazing miracle & some imperfections come with it.


September 2012...  1 year & 1 beautiful (HEALTHY!) baby boy later, every day I look at this:

I can't blame this all on having a baby.  You see, after I had him, I was losing weight.  At my 6 week check up I was down to 162 (I think I was around 180 at his birth, my body likes to pack it on, sigh).  Today though, I'm up to 167.  ONE HUNDRED SIXTY SEVEN POUNDS.  There, I said it.  Twice.  In caps.  And bold!  That's 24#s more than I weighed a year ago & it's honestly because I got lazy & over indulged in junk in the last 3 months.  Yes, I've had A LOT going on with a newborn, a 5 year old with lots of needs, selling a house, moving to a new town, taking on a new job as a stay at home mom...  but, there was no excuse for all the fast food, ice cream, cake, pizza, and lack of exercise.  NO excuse.

So, here I am, overweight, out of shape, feeling fat & ugly, & having about 4 outfits to choose from.  Those things WERE making me continue the cycle, but no more!  I dusted off the juicer, reinstalled the calorie counter app on my phone, & bought a treadmill.  I am ready to be that girl I was a year ago again.

The eating thing I can handle.  Although I despise counting calories & I have to be careful how much I cut out because I am nursing, I happen to be a stubborn, disciplined chick.  I've got the food thing down, no problem.  Exercise is tricky though.  I have very little time to myself.  I have a baby that wants to be held all. the. time.  I'm exhausted & haven't had a full night of sleep in over 3 months.  ...I have lots of other excuses I could throw out there, but all they do is cause my body more damage & keep me from my goals.  I will find time when I can & I'm hoping that will be at least 4 days a week.  

Right now, running hurts. Emotionally, mentally, & especially physically.  I let myself get so very out of shape.  My lungs burn, my feet throb, & my knees get wobbly - and that's at just 1 lousy, slow mile.  The human body is an amazing machine though - fuel it well, work out the kinks, & it'll do amazing things for you.  It's gonna hurt, but every ounce of pain will make my success mean that much more!

So, now that I've put it all out there, it's time to get to work.  I can do this.  I WILL do this.